A bigger lead for The Wave, Muscat, but damage for Oman Air
By staff - Sun Jul 08, 5:04 am
Photo courtesy Oman Sail.
McMillan and his team have shown an incredible mastery of the currents and swirling winds in the River Douro, but he also admitted to a dose of luck. “We won the first race, but in the second race things weren’t going our way. We couldn’t find a way through and ended up in last place but the fleet was very close and all came together at the finish with everyone slowing each other down. We came down with a big gust and overtook five boats at the finish line. We thought it was ridiculous to be able to do that, very lucky and a bit embarrassing. But things happen. Everyone has their ups and downs and we’ve had our fair share of luck at this event so far.” The Wave, Muscat, leads second-placed Red Bull by 28 points going into the final day.
The crew of Oman Air could have used some of McMillan’s good luck today. Skipper Morgan Larson found himself stuck in an impossible situation at a very congested weather mark in race four. “As we were approaching the mark on starboard, we got a big puff and a lift, and were suddenly coming in at 17 knots,” he said. “The Wave, Muscat, was on port in front of us, Alinghi to leeward, so nowhere to go below. We couldn’t turn right, we were calling starboard on The Wave.
“The decision was either to go straight through The Wave, which would have ruined both boats, or the option was to bear away and go into the back of SAP. It was a tough situation where those two boats are doing under 2 to 4 knots, and we’re coming in with rights at a high speed, but it would have been borderline criminal to run into them [The Wave], so we took the safer option of crashing into the back beam of SAP. Unfortunately our bowsprit took the helmsman, Jes Gram Hansen, off the boat, but he was OK, thankfully.” Gram Hansen climbed back on board and SAP finished the race, but Oman Air had to retire from race four. With the bowsprit snapped from the collision, Oman Air was forced to compete in the remaining races without flying the gennaker downwind. In the final race of the day, Oman Air had a great start and led around the first mark, but could do little to defend as they watched the fleet sail past them. Oman Air has now fallen to 4th place overall, but still within striking distance of the podium.
Crewman Nasser al Mashari was philosophical about such a strange day, and hoped for better tomorrow. “It was a great day for us at the beginning, almost getting into 2nd overall, but then we hit SAP at the weather mark. It was a hard day, we have a few hours of boatwork to finish the repair and a refit after this event. Tomorrow I hope the boat is fixed and to fight for a place on the podium, and to have the Omani flag on the podium once again.”
Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Porto concludes tomorrow. The stadium racing will be broadcast live online on the official event website www.extremesailingseries.com from 1800 CET (1700 local time).